Controlled molecular weight phenylethynyl terminated imide oligomers (PETIs) have been prepared by the cyclodehydration of precursor phenylethynyl terminated amic acid oligomers. Amino terminated amic acid oligomers are prepared from the reaction of dianhydride(s) with an excess of diamine(s) and subsequently endcapped with phenylethynyl phthalic anhydride(s) (PEPA). The polymerizations are carried out in polar aprotic solvents such as N-methyl-2-pyrrolidinone or N.N-dimethylacetamide under nitrogen at room temperature. The amic acid oligomers are subsequently cyclodehydrated either thermally or cheznicauy to the corresponding imide oligomers. Direct preparation of PETIs from the reaction of dianhydxide(s) with an excess of diamine(s) and endcapped with phenylethynyl phthalic anhydride(s) has been performed in m-cresol. Phenylethynyl phthalic anhydrides are synthesized by the palladium catalyzed reaction of phenylacetylene with bromo substituted phthalic anhydrides in triethylamine. These new materials exhibit excellent properties and are potentially useful as adhesives, coatings, films, moldings and composite matrices.